Defending Against Thaksin And His Red-Shirt Gang
A Half-Day with Nick, The Pale-Red Photo-Journalist
( Last edit 2009-10-11 )
I ran into Nick, the renown photo jounalist of the red-shirts, when he took a break during his job. It was at the northwest corner of the King Rama V Royal Plaza in the morning on October 7, 2009 while he was taking photos of a one-day rally event held by People's Alliance for Democracy in remembrance of the dead and injured ones during the 193-day rally in 2008.
He said he was Nick, the photo journalist. I introduced myself that I am from antithaksin.com. I remember Nick from his photos and reports of street events of the yellow and red (October 7, 2008, April 2009, September 2009). To me, some of Nick's reports/comments are biased against PAD. I used to raise arguments against his report of October 7, 2008 in the New Mandala website. I was the culprit of the red and he must be the culprit of the yellow. The morning food offering for the monks was just about to start and we agreed to find a cool shaded corner on the east side of the Royal Plaza to sit down and chat. We agree that violent means are uncivilized and to be condemned, such as the use of liquid petroleum gas trucks used by the red-shirts during April 2009 as photos taken by Nick.
Though he just walked out from behind PAD's stage, the very first sentences after I asked who he was, were that he was afraid of a violent ambush. Nick raised some violent actions of yellow Srivichai guards which are formidable for him. He prefers talking and does not mind discussion. That is very kind of him. I doubt if Nick was too nervous when surrounded by strict PAD's Srivichai guards and that could trigger even more negative suspicious reactions. If PAD had been protected well by the police, we would not have to be prepared to defend our peaceful ralliers with justifiable means.
CLICK FOR Human Rights Watch's Statements Investigate Violence by Pro-Pua Thai Government Groups (New York, July 26, 2008)
CLICK FOR A Joint Statement of Media Professional Organisations On the Government’s Declaration of State of Emergency
The following topic was that the military coup was to be blamed for the never-ending turmoils. Nick put the heaviest blame on the military 2009 coup, seeing Thailand should have waited for conventional democratic processes to get rid of Thaksin. I am in part in agreement with Nick since Surayudh Julanond, the interim PM did not finish off Thaksin's regime once and for all but I see some good of quick resetting the system to restart the check and balance anew. Actually, what I knew from an insider was that Thaksin before he left for New York, he had left a large sum of money for a General to stage a coup while Thaksin was away and the violent red army from up-country was coming in to Bangok to riot and demolish the yellow PAD. However, the General changed his mind, and there it was the CNS's coup on September 19, 2006.
Therefore, I put it back to him that how about the media in Thailand. Are they good enough in teaching democracy to Thai people or in telling the people who are the bad guys or else? He agrees with me that the media are hopeless. If not repressed, they are either ignorant or take bribes. Particularly him, he does never feel proud of being call a medium. I pressed further asking him what he thinks about political parties in Thailand. He does not feel that there are political parties for people in Thailand similar to my opinion that the parties are just commercialized companies own by a person or just a small group of politicians. [I did not mention PAD's "New Politics Party" which is yet to proof itself.] They do not belong to the people. So, again I come back to challenge him that I believe that sometimes the coup is needed in Thailand to get rid of such a dictator like Thaksin.
Nick see Thaksin just as an authoritarian, not a dictator based upon possible free demonstrations by PAD in 2006. He insists that if Thaksin were a dictator, PAD would have been executed. I put it back to him that Thaksin's hands are not bloodless anyway because of the over 3,000 unaccountable deaths following the ant-drug policy and the over 100 massacre of Muslims in the south. Nick agrees since he and his camera witnessed the victims of the anti-drug interceptive killing. [His photos below.]
Nick, despite coming from aristocrat family, he sincerely confesses that he is a red-supporter, but his colour is just pale-red. He envisages that one day red and yellow paths may merge. Nick converses in Thai very well but sincerely admits that he does not read Thai language.
Nick does not like Thaksin whom he says more than twice that Thaksin is a megalomaniac. I told him Buddhism call it a kind of getting lost [Mo-Ha], or delusion which is from Thaksin being a habitual liar. Ones who lie too much and too often would loose check and balance in their brain. Buddhism say such liars can commit any wrongdoings.
Nick likes Nattawut, Dr.Weng To-jirakarn, Jaral Dittha-apichai, believing they are the truly sympathetic to the disadvantageous poors and speak for them just like him. Some had joined the Communist guerilla army over thirty years ago. Nick values the joining of the CPT as a credit for the sympathy to the poors. I do not agree because lots of other ex-communists have become ful-blown capitalists or corrupt politicians, turning their backs to the poors and throwing their ideologies down the drain. During 2006's campaign of PAD to oust Thaksin PM then, Dr.Weng was very active in condemning Thaksin as the nation's traitor, just like Sanoh Thientong, an old right-wing politician. In 2008, they both turned from whole-heartedly anti-Thaksin to Thaksin worshipers. For me, Jaral Dittha-apichai who also used to be a member of NHRC lost his credits when he led definitely violent rallies of the red in front of Gen.Prem's house in 2006. Therefore, they may be only opportunistic red and prepared to take Thaksin's bribes.
Though Nick says he does not like Thaksin, he wishes to interview Thaksin one day. I strongly advised him to get paid like other paid red-shirts leaders since they have become very rich already because of Thaksin's generosity to his supporters. Nick insists that despite of being not rich, he does not take bribes. He works for his only boss "ideology". He would tend to speak for the poors who lack of the opportunities unlike other classes of the society.
Nick was taking close up photos of Major Gen. Chamlong [and perhaps also Sondhi Limthongkul besides]. Would Nick know that what he has in common with Major Gen. Chamlong [and Sondhi Limthongkul] is the anti-coup ideology? Major Gen. Chamlong and Sondhi were the heroes who stood up against succession of military coup government led by Gen.Sunthorn Kongsompong and Gen.Sujinda Kraprayoon in the May 1992. Major Gen. Chamlong was arrested by the command of the military and incarcerated in barracks waiting to be secretly executed while people were shot on the streets of Raj Damnoen but then the Royal intervention overturned the military government to a civillian government, led by Anand Panyarachun, one of the best PMs of Thailand.
Nick sees that though Thaksin is a genuine corruptor, he did some good to the poors. Thaksin raised their hopes and political awarenss. Nick knows it well because his wife is from the village of the lower north. However, I put it back to him that the actual statistic shows the poorest are the people of the three southernmost provinces of Thailand. What Thaksin did, instead of visiting them once in the five years administration to help them out, was sending the troops led by Gen.Panlop Pinmanee (who was also behind the 1992 Black May event) in and some massacre of over a hundred civillians there were. Nick said some matters in Thailand are too complicate to say.
Nick talked about his personal research of Pattaya after the raid of red-shirts led by Arisman Pongruangrong and the fall of April 2009 Asian summit meeting. He found key witnesses telling him that Suthep in cooperation with the blue-shirts conspired to provoke the red-shirts. Again, we agree that some matters in Thailand are too complicate to say.
Nick insists that there are non-paid red-shirts who rallies purely because of their ideology. They also donate to the rallies, not being paid. Why some red-poors have to be paid to come out is because they are so poor that they cannot afford either to leave their works or to pay for the travel expenses. Thaksin himself is not anti-royalist. Actually, Thaksin is the one who can fit himself to the patronage system. I said I agreed with his last statement and we both agree that Thaksin knows his way around to bribe lots of bureaucrats even in the justice system. So, why do the ideologically reds support Thaksin since he has never been actually sincere to the poors? We agreed that it is because the reds want to make use of Thaksin and vice versa. Thus, they both coexist and cooperate.
Nick sees that the red petition is not genuinely aiming for requesting an amnesty for Thaksin. The reds only try to make an impact against the Establishment so that there will be no further involvement in politics. The red-shirts never hope any successes of it anyway. I just think, if what Nick said was actually true, then how honest Thaksin and his red-shirt leaders claim the number of as high as millions of signatures. Furthermore, if there were really such the number of people signing the petition, how tricky Thaksin is in making use to call for supports of a lot of people to do something else not exactly as the message in the petition is said to be for. Nick still sees that Thaksin may make a come back just like Thanom and Prapas which I do not agree since Thaksin has caused a lot more lost to the country while he is not shutting up. Nick has a pessimistic view that Thailand is likely to have a lot of turmoils because of political conflicts are not settled. My view is not much different since the corruptors are still free through legal loopholes and official inactions.
Nick sees that the showing support to PAD by attending PAD's funeral is not appropriate. Such action may provoke negative feelings of people such as in the northeast where they are heavily politicized. One may be supposed to be the one for all colours, not just for yellow. I put a question back to him, whether it is illegal for anybody to go to anybody's funeral or show their support of one's own favourite colour. What a pity if any laws or any constitution or what a democratic ideology would limit some particular persons for their rights to attend any funeral or express their political support.
Because Nick is neither Thai, French nor Cambodian, I asked what he thinks about the Pra Vihar temple. He said he had read the World's Court's verdict and found some flaws in it. The ruling of Pra Vihar temple to belong to Cambodian's is not based on the conventional laws of geographical watershed line. Thailand and Cambodia must sit down and negotiate.
After 9:00 we moved to the Misakawan junction where PAD put makeshift monuments for the late heroines and heroes. Particularly, it was the site where Nong Bow, Miss Angkana Raduppanyawoot was shot in the chest with a teargas canister. So, I have PAD's all passed-away heroines/heroes to cross examine Nick. Nick told me that on October 7, 2008 there were also firing slingshots and pistols from PAD at the police who at least ten were also seriously injured. NCCC is too politicized and biased in ruling that Somchai and the police were wrong. The only mistakes were the teargas canisters from China which were fatal. They must have been bought long ago which he is not sure in Chavalit's or Chuan's government. NCCC did not get Nick interogated and this issue has not come up. He wants to see all the facts revealed. I disagree with Nick's allegation of NCCC since NCCC charges Somchai, Chavalit, Suchart on the ground that they had already knew from the dawn event and cannot deny any responsibility because of the media's extensive reports that the teargas firing definitely could kill as well as severely injure people. Still, they were ignorant of such fatal weapons until the death of Miss Angkana in front of the Metropolitan police headquarter in the evening.
It is a kind and sincere advice of Nick for me, to take care that later in the evening or at night, there may be violent attacks on PAD around Sanam Luang Royal Plaza. Initially, I did not really believe him but later, at the rally ground around the Democracy Monument, a PAD announcer also warned the rallying PAD supporters of red-shirts attack organized by a trouble-maker red general and that PAD ralliers are to be nonviolent and self-restrained.
At the end of the day, I am sure I feel more comfortable and confident in my ideology which is most compatible with PAD's peaceful struggles as compared to my interviewee's. Today October 7, 2009 Nick came to witness a one-day absolutely peaceful rally in remembrance and praises of the lost ones while the red-shirts rallies he believes in, have been proved potentially/actually violent even necessitate his personal warning to me.
His red-shirts comrades still have to proof their sincere gratefulness to their deceased and injured comrades, rather than persistent gratefulness to the wealthy Thaksin. I never heard any tribute event for the first red death who was shot dead by their own friendly firing at 3 o'clock of September 1, 2008, the night of the red trouble makers attacking the stationary PAD in the Government House, for the then PM Samak to declare the State of Emergency. This includes the latter red one who was seriously shot by a 11-mm bullet in his chest in the April 2009 events, fraudulently claimed by Dr.Weng when he visited Rajvithi hospital and later trickily made use by Thaksin to claim the death to force further havoc and a selfish amnesty.
During the two-hour conversation, he was smoking at least four cigarettes. I am worried about his health since I would like to have him as a political rival rather than other paid and violent ones. Healthwise, with heavy smoking, he may not last that long to see the merging of the reds and yellows . Best of all, I turn to believe that Nick has never been bribed to write for the reds. I thank him for what he had made sincere and undeniable reports/publication for the dark corners of Thai night lives and the victims of murders during Thaksin's administration. Those all took place during Thaksin was at the height of the authority and definitely failed.